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What is the best way to do one’s due diligence for retiring or living in Costa Rica?

This is the first in a series of articles for The Tico Times about moving to and living in Costa Rica.

The goal is to help people relocate as seamlessly as possible, give objective information based on 40 years of living in the country and to provide the best possible network of contacts and resources.

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Relocating to any country is a daunting task.

Initially, most people go to the internet, where there are literally thousands of articles about living abroad. Just search “Living in, retiring in or relocating to Costa Rica,” and thousands of results come up — but the majority have to do with selling real estate and other products, while other sites like forums and newsgroups are filled with those who live here expressing their opinions on a wide range of subjects.

Some of the information is extremely useful for the neophyte, but unfortunately, some of it is not, since it is written by those have not lived in the country for a long time, do not speak the language or understand the nuances of the culture. Moreover,  people often become more confused after reading the abundance of information and divergent opinions than when they began their research. It is always difficult to separate the wheat from the  chaff or, as we say in Spanish, “Separar el grano de la paja.”

Others who come to explore the country try to do it on their own but in a haphazard fashion. A few brave souls rent a car with a GPS and try to explore different areas of the country. This can be a monumental task, especially if you do not know the language and want to face the challenge of driving on the country’s infamously perilous roads and highways. This type of “knock-about tour” usually proves to be extremely stressful and can cloud one’s perception of the country. 

So how do you garner the best possible  information in order to make the move correctly? Take a retirement tour. If there were a better way to perform one’s due diligence, it would be mentioned here.

If you are seriously contemplating Costa Rica, the only way to accurately gather information is to come experience the country in person. Come see for yourself why people are talking about this beautiful place. It’s all about doing it the right way and taking a guided retirement tour, which is probably the best investment you can make. You could not possibly do this type of a tour yourself and gain the same knowledge about living or retiring in Costa Rica

Take a tour with a guide who accompanies you every step of the way and answers absolutely all of your questions. This type of tour should be like a continuous seminar.

Speaking of seminars, a two- day seminar sponsored by the Association of Residents of Costa Rica (ARCR)  is a must. Participants will hear from the most renowned experts in the fields of residency, healthcare, types of insurance, communications, renting and purchasing property, moving your belongings, U.S. Embassy assistance, banking, shortcuts for learning the language, staying busy, making friends, and you will meet expats who will share experiences about moving here. Indeed, the right connections are everything. Other seminars cannot possibly hold a candle to this one.

Over the last three decades, thousands of people have relocated successfully to Costa Rica and lived their dream by taking a relocation tour. 

Here is what you should get from a retirement tour:

  • A company that is licensed and recognized by the Costa Rican government.
  • Personalized attention and in-depth information in order to meet your specific needs and goals.
  • Insight from someone who has lived in Costa Rica for a long time, who really speaks Costa Rican Spanish, understands all of the nuances of the country, and the Tico culture and mindset.
  • The best locations suited for your lifestyle.
  •  A sampling of Costa Rican homes and living situations.
  • A highly informative seminar with experts in the fields.
  • The opportunity to meet people who have actually made the move, hear about their experiences and make valuable contacts in the process.
  • Information about Costa Rica’s medical system.
  • For the investor, realistic information about opportunities here and detailed appraisal of the areas of greatest growth in the path of progress.
  • How to really learn survival Spanish at any age and not waste time on useless methods.
  • Learn about the exciting lifestyle options you can have by living or retiring here.
  • NO hidden agendas.
  • Above all find out if the country is the right place for you. By the time the tour ends, you should know.

Christopher Howard has been conducting monthly relocation/retirement tours to Costa Rica for over 30 years. See or his blog,, for more. 

He is also the author of the one-of-a-kind and bestselling “Guide to Costa Rican Spanish” that may be purchased through Amazon

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